Getting kids to take supplements can be hard. As much as we might love the idea of giving them some basic nutritional support, it might not be as easy as all of that. There are a few ways around this, much of it comes down to knowing your child and what suit them best. A lot also depends on their age, of course, as that will largely dictate the forms available to them. Most kids can swallow tablets and/ or capsules by age seven, so sometimes that helps as then tastes, textures and flavors are bypassed. Getting kids to take supplements is important, and in cases of special needs, can be crucial for their wellbeing.
First, as obvious as it may seem, is to get supplements that are in a form that works best for your child. Some kids will gladly chew a chewy tablet, but balk at liquids. Some kids are troopers about funny tastes, some will absolutely not take anything that doesn’t suit their palate. The easiest way is to get supplements that you can put in their food or drink and that they can’t even detect – so first I look for supplements that are in liquid or powder form and don’t have much flavor. I will say, though, that this is only a good strategy for supplements that are truly flavorless. I am not a huge fan of tricking your child into thinking that some gross-tasting supplement is not even there, as they might then start resisting their food, which isn’t a good thing.
Another trick I’ve used successfully to make supplements taste better is flavored stevia. Stevia comes in about 20 flavors ranging from peppermint to apricot to hazelnut to chocolate. It’s super sweet, 1-2 drops go a long way, and it can be just enough to give supplements a palatable flavor. Those drops are available from Amazon or most health food stores.
The four supplements I think are important even for generally healthy kids are –
- Multivitamin/ mineral – it can be tricky getting adequate levels of vitamins and minerals in kids, without any fillers or other ingredients. One multi I’ve used with kids a lot is called Spectrum Mate. As the name implies, it is designed for kids on the spectrum and their needs, however, I would equally give this to any child as a high-quality, no-added rubbish multi. It comes as a powder so it is quite easy to mix. BrainChild Nutritionals also has a high-quality liquid multi that is lemon-lime flavored, and an unflavored mineral liquid, so they might be good choices too.
- Vitamin D – this one is pretty easy as liquid vitamin D’s are available that only require a drop or two to get the full dose, and they really don’t taste of much. New Beginnings’ micellized Vitamin D is 1200 IU per drop, which is what I give my daughter and have done since she was one.
- Probiotics – powders are often the best best here as they can be mixed in milk bottles or any other drinks, so long as they are cold drinks (anything heated could denature the probiotic). Luckily, any probiotic that comes in a capsule can be emptied into a drink – New Beginnings brand and Klaire Labs brand are both good examples of that. We have our RestorMedicine probiotic powder too, which is so concentrated that just a tiny scoop daily is all that’s needed for kids.
- Fish oil – this is probably the trickiest of the four. There are many different flavored liquid fish oil supplements, mostly lemon, orange or strawberry. The flavoring actually covers the fishy taste really well, but sometimes the texture is what gets kids to baulk. Carlson and Nordic Naturals are two great brands of fish oil that are both tested for contaminants etc. For those who will chew, Nordic Naturals also maked DHA Junior which are strawberry-flavored chewables, and they’re really good.
While primarily being an essential oil company, doTERRA actually makes a great chewable multivitamin for kids, and a liquid fish oil for kids. Information on those can be found here.
For many of the kiddos in my practice, I use a company called New Beginnings Nutritionals. Many years ago I was introduced to New Beginnings via my work with kids on the autistic spectrum. New Beginnings is a company based in Lenexa, Kansas that specializes in creating supplements for kids with special needs. Today, I still use them for many of my pediatric patients, because whether they are on the spectrum or not, I know that the supplements that I get from New Beginnings will be tailored towards kids in the form they are supplied, they will be gluten and casein free, and they will be of the highest quality. All of the supplements listed above are available from New Beginnings.
Lori Knowles, the founder of New Beginnings, also wrote a great article on getting kids to take supplements. You can find that here. Given that she has run New Beginnings for many years and spoken with thousands of parents, and given that she recovered her son from autism using the biomedical approach (read her store here), I’d rank her pretty well-qualified to speak on it! (By the way, that’s one of the things I love about New Beginnings is their willingness spending time with parents to try to figure these things out).
Lori’s opinion about getting kids to take supplements is to take a no-nonsense approach, being consistent and firm, and using rewards and positive associations to associate taking their supplements with a positive outcome, whether that be screen time, a food reward, or a favorite activity; and for sure always praise and hugs.
Some kids with special health needs take a range of supplements, and potentially medications too. It can be tough to keep up with the daily regimen, but worth it to find strategies that allow the situation to be peaceful. What you never want is a daily battle with your child to get remedies in, as that could cause more issues long term both with eating and behavior.
You can find New Beginnings Nutritionals online, or call them at 1 877 575 2467 (or 913 754 0458). I have worked with New Beginnings for many years and I just love them. In full disclosure I am an affiliate of theirs, however, I have the opportunity to utilize any and every supplement company, and this is one that I stand behind because of their quality, their customer service and their commitment to making a difference in kids’ lives, especially kids with special nutritional and nutrient needs.